As much as it’s an entertaining visual to imagine NBC’s “Meet the Press” go all “Good Will Hunting” on David Gregory‘s ass, NBC News execs are insisting that a consultant brought in to assess Gregory and the program was not performing a psychological evaluation of any kind.
In fact, the “brand consultant,” we’re told, has no psychology degree.
After a slew of publications, including this one, ran with the psych assessment from Paul Farhi‘s Washington Post story — which claims that a “psychology consultant” was brought in last year to interview Gregory’s wife and friends to find out why the Sunday morning program is failing and in third place — NBC now says Farhi’s story mischaracterized what happened.
“Last year Meet the Press brought in a brand consultant—not, as reported, a psychological one—to better understand how its anchor connects,” an NBC spokesperson told The Daily Caller‘s Mirror blog. “This is certainly not unusual for any television program, especially one that’s driven so heavily by one person.”
The exact paragraph in question was this one with the discrepancy in bold: “Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was ‘to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.’ But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.”
That part about the consultant interviewing Gregory’s wife and friends is accurate.
While it may not be unusual for NBC, has any other journalist you know had their friends and family interviewed to find out why he’s failing so miserably? According to one TV personality, “No. Not standard at all. It’s insane.”
A quick investigation of “brand consultant” brought up some answers. Ask.com, for instance, describes what a brand consultant is, but there’s no mention of an invasive examination of a person or a person’s family. “A brand consultant is a professional who gives professional advice to a company regarding the brand’s perception. He or she works closely with the company’s marketing and advertising departments in an effort to help a brand grow or evolve. They help the company to have a good image in the business industry.”
The Mirror sought comment from Farhi. Hey WaPo, should Farhi get his head examined for this one?
UPDATE: I spoke with Farhi by phone at 12:45 p.m. He remarked, “I stand by it based on everything I learned up to the point that I wrote that story. I thought it was perfectly fair and accurate. I have not heard any plans to run a correction. It’s Easter Sunday. They’re trying to check it out. It’s down in the bowels [from last year]. They’re not saying it didn’t happen, but that they couldn’t get to the exact people [they needed to confirm it Sunday.]”